The Volkswagen Golf is Germany’s Corolla – perennially popular, perfectly practical and a constant evolution of the same successful formula. But revolution, or at least a revolt, is happening with the Kia Soul and Skoda Yeti, which happily hatch fresh ideas spun off the honest-to-goodness hatchback concept espoused by the Golf. The version tested here is the latest entry-level 1.2-litre.
The Korean model is the wild card. It is upright like the Czech creature, but more colourful; it is as functional as the do-everything German machine, but more fun. The Soul also has a much lower sticker price and a much longer warranty than either rival. Is there enough heart in the Soul to outshine the great Golf and the unusual Skoda?
The Yeti actually rides on a Golf platform and it uses the same 1.2-litre drivetrain too. But the design and proportions deviate sharply from the Golf template and drive straight into crossover territory, complete with roof rails, generous ground clearance and rear mud flaps. If the Soul is an urban weapon and the Golf is a suburban device, then the Yeti is a pastoral apparatus, albeit front-wheel drive.
Which of the three cars is the most capable in our concrete jungle? Which one is the coolest carriage for “Tarzan” to go places with “Jane”?